China has released 10 Indian army soldiers who were captured in Monday’s violent confrontation over a border dispute.
As tensions between the two countries begin to mount, it would appear that negotiations to de-escalate the situation are starting to yield fruit. China and India clashed over the border in the Western Himalayas on Monday which cost 20 Indian soldiers their lives. Now, several days after that clash in Ladakh, in the disputed Galwan Valley, the Indian media has reported that 10 captured soldiers from the Indian army were released and returned unharmed.
Anonymous officials told Indian newspaper, The Hindu, that all 10 soldiers were released by China around 5pm (11:30 GMT) on Thursday, according to Al Jazeera. The officials were quoted as saying “They were returned unharmed” after soldiers went through medical examinations and a preliminary debriefing.
The releases follow several rounds of major-general-level talks between India and China that have been held in a bid to ease tension after Monday’s clash, which involved exchanges with nail-studded batons and soldiers throwing rocks at one another.
However, the official position of the Indian army paints a different story, after they denied that any soldiers were captured by China. “No Indian troops missing in action,” an official statement from the army read.
This would be the first time since the 1962 India-China War that Indian soldiers had been taken into Chinese custody.
Later, the Indian army also stated that 76 soldiers suffered wounds during the Ladakh clash and that 56 have been cleared to return to work “within a week”. China has yet to release any official statements regarding any casualties from the conflict in what has been the deadliest exchange between the two nuclear powers in decades.
The border dispute between China and India is a decades-old conflict, largely because the 4,056km border between India and China runs through glaciers, snow deserts and rivers in the west to thickly forested mountains in the east. The clash between the two nations took place at a freezing altitude of 4,300 metres. Due to the harsh terrain, borders have been very loosely defined along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a demarcation that was first used by Zhou Enlai, the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China in a 1959.